This sextet of horror slashers has laid waste to more than 300 victims onscreen, with technique and victim tallies varying wildly from one maniac to the next. But which of these iconic evildoers is the best at being the worst? To help answer that question, here’s a user’s guide to seven of the genre’s most storied and imaginative villains, using info gleaned only from their original films (i.e., no remakes or reboots) and ranked in order of body count.
Who: An inbred denizen of the Lone Star State who often covers his face with a mask made of human skin.
Franchise: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
Signature portrayer: Gunnar Hansen
Total films: 4
Weapon(s) of choice: Chainsaw; sledgehammer; meat hook.
Most brutal kill: Slicing a driver’s head in half through the roof of his car.
Who: A child killer who’d been burned by vengeful parents, Krueger returned to exact vengeance by terrorizing teens from within their dreams.
Franchise: A Nightmare on Elm Street
Signature portrayer: Robert Englund
Total films: 8
Weapon(s) of choice: Leather gardener’s glove outfitted with blades
Most brutal kill: Pulling a snoozing Johnny Depp (as Glen) inside the mattress on which he was sleeping — and sending out a geyser of blood.
Photo: New Line Cinema
Who: A doll inhabited by the soul of Charles Lee Ray, a.k.a. the “Lakeshore Strangler.”
Franchise: Child’s Play
Signature portrayer: Brad Dourif
Total films: 6
Weapon(s) of choice: Knife; hammer; plastic bag; razor. Chucky also once managed to murder someone with a high-resolution printer.
Most brutal kill: Spanking an overly strict teacher to death with a ruler.
Photo: United Artists
Who: The leader of the Cenobites, interdimensional beings devoted to harvesting human souls in gruesome fashion.
Signature portrayer: Doug Bradley
Total films: 9
Weapon(s) of choice: Flesh-ripping hooks and chains; skull-splitting discs.
Most brutal kill: Eviscerating an escapee from hell.
Photo: New World Pictures
Who: An imp from Irish lore willing to go to homicidal lengths to recover his pot of gold.
Signature portrayer: Warwick Davis
Total films: 7
Weapon(s) of choice: His own claws; chainsaw; futuristic saber (Leprechaun 4: In Space only).
Most brutal kill: Impaling a stoner with his own bong.
Photo: Trimark Pictures
Who: As a young child, Myers was sentenced to a sanitarium after committing murder. He escapes as a young adult and continues where his violent rampage left off.
Signature portrayer: Tony Moran
Total films: 8
Weapon(s) of choice: Butcher knife; his own hands (for strangling).
Most brutal kill: Stabbing his sister to death when he was 6 years old.
Photo: Falcon International Productions
Who: As a young camper, Voorhees allegedly drowned when the two counselors supposed to be watching him were busy having sex. He reappeared years later to exact his bloody revenge.
Franchise: Friday the 13th
Signature portrayer: Kane Hodder
Total films: 11
Weapon of choice: Machete
Most brutal kill: Trapping a teenager inside her sleeping bag and than smashing that sleeping bag against a tree. Repeatedly.(Honorable mention to Jason’s mother, Pamela Voorhees, for offing Kevin Bacon with an arrow through the neck.)
Photo: Paramount Pictures